[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Placental neurokinin B appears to be post-translationally modified by phosphocholine (PC) attached to the aspartyl side chain at residue 4 of the mature peptide. Corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) was found to be expressed by the rat placenta with the main secreted forms being phosphocholinated proCRF+/- one or two polysaccharide moieties. A combination of high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and two-site immunometric analysis suggested that PC was also attached to the placental precursors of adrenocorticotrophin, hemokinin, activin and follistatin. However, the fully processed forms of rat placental activin and CRF were free of PC. Formerly, the parasitic filarial nematodes have used PC as a post-translational modification, attached via the polysaccharide moiety of certain secretory glycoproteins to attenuate the host immune system allowing parasite survival, but it is the PC group itself which endows the carrier with the biological activity. The fact that treatment of proCRF peptides with phospholipase C but not endoglycosidase destroyed PC immunoreactivity suggested a simpler mode of attachment of PC to placental peptides than that used by nematodes. Thus, it is possible that by analogy the placenta uses its secreted phosphocholinated hormones to modulate the mother's immune system and help protect the placenta from rejection.
Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 10/2007; 39(3):189-98. · 3.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human placenta produces a wide range of important peptides, of which an intricate balance is required throughout pregnancy. In a gestational disease, this balance may be disturbed and the identification of such changes may be used to detect a particular pathology or to ascertain its severity. This review considers the role and association of various placental peptide markers associated with the major gestational diseases including intrauterine growth retardation, pre-term labour, pre-eclampsia, chromosomal disorders, gestational diabetes and trophoblastic disease. Potential markers that may prove more reliable and specific in their diagnostic value and that may be used for identifying patients at risk are also discussed. The importance of the new fields of genomics and proteomics in the future discovery of new peptide markers is illustrated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the cloning of a new gene family encoding six apolipoprotein L (apoL-I to -VI) proteins. The genes were identified as a cluster spanning a region of 619 kb on chromosome 22. Each apoL was found to share significant identity in its predicted amphipathic alpha helices while phylogenetic tree mapping showed the genes to be evolutionarily conserved. Tissue distribution by semiquantitative PCR revealed expression in all tissues, but consistently higher levels in the placenta were observed, except for apoL-V, which had a restricted expression. A comparison of tissue distribution with apoA-I, the major structural component of high-density lipoprotein, suggests that the apoL proteins may play a general and fundamental role in lipid biochemistry. In situ hybridization for expression of apoL-I in the placenta revealed expression throughout this tissue. The pathological expression of the apolipoproteins during pregnancy is implicated in fetal growth retardation, preeclampsia, and the onset of adult atherosclerosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have performed differential display and bioinformatic database mining of the placenta, in an attempt to find novel diagnostic markers of pathological pregnancies. We have identified a full-length cDNA encoding the preproprotein of pregnancy associated plasma protein-E (PAPP-E); a putative metalloprotease, of 1790-residues with a putative 21-residue signal peptide. An alternatively spliced mRNA was found to encode an 826-residue precursor protein corresponding to the N-terminus of PAPP-E. Both PAPP-E variants were found to be co-expressed abundantly in the placenta and non-pregnant mammary gland with low expression in the kidney, foetal brain and pancreas. Analysis of the predicted proteins suggests that the longer variant be targeted to the nucleus while the shorter variant is secreted extracellularly. Gene structure analysis revealed that PAPP-E was encoded on 23 exons on chromosome 1 and its splice variant on the first five same exons. The discovery of the PAPP-E variants will help in the deciphering of the physiology of this new family of metzincins in not only the placenta during pregnancy but also the mammary gland in breast cancer. The new PAPP-E variants could have the potential for the diagnosis of pathological pregnancies including trisomies such as Down's syndrome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pre-eclampsia is a principal cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, affecting 5-10% of first pregnancies worldwide. Manifestations include increased blood pressure, proteinuria, coagulopathy and peripheral and cerebral oedema. Although the aetiology and pathogenesis remain to be elucidated, the placenta is undoubtedly involved, as termination of pregnancy eradicates the disease. Here we have cloned a complementary DNA from human placental messenger RNA encoding a precursor protein of 121 amino acids which gives rise to a mature peptide identical to the neuropeptide neurokinin B (NKB) of other mammalian species. In female rats, concentrations of NKB several-fold above that of an animal 20 days into pregnancy caused substantial pressor activity. In human pregnancy, the expression of NKB was confined to the outer syncytiotrophoblast of the placenta, significant concentrations of NKB could be detected in plasma as early as week 9, and plasma concentrations of NKB were grossly elevated in pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia. We conclude that elevated levels of NKB in early pregnancy may be an indicator of hypertension and pre-eclampsia, and that treatment with certain neurokinin receptor antagonists may be useful in alleviating the symptoms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many of the maternal serum markers used in prenatal screening have been developed or evolved based on serendipity. This study determines the feasibility of developing a genetic profile of placental gene expression during early pregnancy; such a gene repertoire may serve as a tool for identifying novel secreted markers.
RNA fingerprinting was used to produce a differential expression map in normal aborted placentae of weeks 9 and 13.
Out of 212 gene expression differences, 115 were up-regulated at week 9 and the remaining 97 up-regulated at week 13. Ninety-four were found to be previously characterised genes and 118 were expressed sequence tags or novel genes. Seven of the known genes were found to be secreted proteins and included well-characterised pregnancy markers. mRNA levels of these secreted proteins were found to correlate with levels found in maternal serum.
This approach enabled the identification of known secreted markers leaving open the possibility of finding new markers. With the human genome project nearing completion, it will be vital to use a systematic approach to understand the actual pattern of gene expression during pregnancy. This will also allow a more ordered and precise identification of novel prenatal diagnostic markers.
Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy 01/2000; 15(4):237-45. · 1.90 Impact Factor